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Student Sex Work

This page will share resources/useful links to support individuals who are balancing involvement in both academia and the adult entertainment/sex industry. Recent research is also shared regarding this increasing aspect of the industry. Any questions regarding this information please contact our email or fill out the form on the 'Contact Us' page.

Recent research has highlighted that rising costs of University fees and associated living expenses are seeing increasing numbers of students entering the sex industry reporting almost 5% of students had worked within it and 20% considered it. Students reported not feeling supported or receiving the help they needed whilst trying to both complete their studies and financially support themselves by working in the UK adult entertainment industry. They described experiences such as isolation, stigma and discrimination, whilst still having to keep their work secret for fear of repercussions from their universities (The Student Sex Work Project, 2015; NUS, 2016).

The Student Sex Work Project

The Student Sex Work Project was a three year project led by Swansea University which carried out extensive research and provided e-health services and support for students who were involved in the sex industry. There were 6,773 respondents mainly across Wales but also including the rest of the UK. Follow the links below the summary report of their research:

for their comprehensive website:

and training:

Student Sex Work - University of Leicester

Developing Good Practice within Higher Education: Student Sex Work, Safety and Inclusion

In November 2019, the University of Leicester and their Students’ Union ran a joint campaign around supporting student sex workers. The focus of this campaign was to provide information and an education for those who attended events and other sessions, and to vitally highlight support options available.

A collaborative project between Sex Workers, Leicester University, researchers and practitioners was then established, providing information for students who sex work regarding safe working practices, support available, and recommendations for staff in Higher Education regarding best practice when providing support. The project has delivered a training package direct to Universities over the past year, training nearly 1000 people within nearly 60 universities and 17 organisations.

Access a recording of the launch of the project, policy and outreach plans here.

You can visit the project website here or book onto the training here.

Student Sex Worker Research - NUS

In February 2016 the Women’s Campaign and the LGBT+ campaign, working with the Sex Workers Open University (SWOU) and the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) launched a survey to gather information on the lives and experiences of student sex workers. They survey was open for one month- between February to March 2016 and was promoted via online networks of the LGBT+ and Women’s campaign. They received 55 valid responses from students who have been involved in sex work at some point during their time in further or higher education. This research will be followed by more detailed qualitative analysis of the particular experiences of women and LGBT+ student sex workers.

Click here to access a downloadable version of the research

National Ugly Mugs (NUM)

A new webinar by National Ugly Mugs Research and Development Team from their Tips and Tits series regarding student sex work, access it here.

I was threatened with expulsion': Why sex workers at university fear speaking out'

Kate Lister (2019)

Gauging the exact number of students who are in sex work is almost impossible. As long as sex work remains stigmatised and criminalised, students, and indeed the sex work community at large, will be fearful to disclose the truth.

Read the full article here.

Blog post by Camille

Click here to read about Camille's experiences of being an out sex worker in academia, and here for more information about her work.

Click here to access briefings regarding student sex work from ECP (English Collective of Prostitutes.

Save the Student

Save the Student provides free, impartial advice to students on how to balance their finances and make their money go further.

Support for Student Sex Workers

Organisation based in Manchester, run by former and current sex workers offering support/advice to individuals involved in all aspects of the sex industry

Revenge Porn Helpline

A UK service supporting adults (aged 18+) who are experiencing intimate image abuse, also known as, revenge porn. **(see more in our 'Resources' section)

Telephone (helpline): **see email below during the COVID-19 crisis

Downloadable welfare resource pack for student sex workers:

Research Articles

Students, sex work and negotiations of stigma in the UK and Australia

Simpson, J. and Smith C. (2020)

How stigma is negotiated by female university students working in the sex industry remains under-researched and is limited to the context of erotic dancing. This article combines data collected in the UK and Australia with a total of 14 student sex workers and expands the scope by including individuals working in legal brothels, as independent escorts, webcammers and erotic dancers. Access the article here.

Students Selling Sex: Marketisation, Higher Education and Consumption

Sanders, T and Hardy, K (2013) - British Journal of Sociology of Education

Robust academic research on the topic of students involved in the sex industry is in its infancy, yet the relationship appears consistent and permanent. This paper draws on findings from the largest study into the stripping industry in the United Kingdom to explore the relationships between students, sex work and consumption. Access the article here.

Students and sex work in the UK: providers and purchasers

Roberts, R. Jones, A. & Sanders, T. (2013) - Sex Education

Available evidence suggests that changes in the funding of UK higher education in recent years have been accompanied by an increased student presence in the sex industry, ostensibly for financial reasons and to make ends meet. The current study comprises a sample of students (N = 200) drawn from several universities in the UK. Access the article here.


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